My mother attended a prestigious, private university on the East Coast in 1981. Upon her graduation, she was handed a college diploma free of the heavy half of the double-sided coin that the vast majority of millennials now possess—student loans. She was then able to attend New York University for her Masters' in Psychology, followed by a Doctorate from Vanderbilt, and an internship at Georgetown. All of this low-cost education fueled a successful career in psychological counseling, as well as the ability to afford food and housing for herself, her husband, and her six young children. This life trajectory reflects many dreams for which millennials still strive. At the very least, economic stability is often required to pursue a multitude of aspirations. Unfortunately, between the rising costs of college and the increasing demand for degrees in employment, millennials are finding themselves lost—trying desperately to progress in the country that has demanded the success of future generations even in the midst of financial turmoil.
Evaluation of the cycle that is failing millions of young people can begin with the following statistics:
- According to Zach Friedman of Forbes, the average student loan debt in 2016 was $37,172.
- This statistic stems from over 44 million borrowers from ages 18-60+, and the debt of said borrowers combines to a shocking $1.5 trillion. This may seem a bit abstract to some readers. To put Friedman's findings in more concrete terms, analysts of SmartAssets evaluated statistics collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that the average earnings of Americans aged 16-34 was $684 a week or $35,592 a year.
- Amelia Josephson, the lead author behind the quoted SmartAssets article (September 2018), states that "That number doesn't get you very far in some of the country's biggest cities, where the income needed to pay the average rent can easily reach six figures." Add that cost of living to the exorbitant amount of student loan debts, and millennials become unable to live where the progression of careers is most possible.
The student loan crisis quite literally places the future of the human race in conflict. Millennials are drowning in student loan debts, unable to afford the cost of living, and as a result, are struggling to progress in their careers. They are the future of the American generation, yet American society is conveniently turning a blind eye. It's time to push loan forgiveness and affordable college in state and federal legislation; Our future depends on it.
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Attorney James C. Shields received his J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1985 and an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1975. Attorney Shields also earned a B.A in Economics from California State University Dominguez Hills in 1973. He previously worked as an attorney at the Law Offices of Robert G. Winterbotham, and in 1998, he started his own law firm to emphasize on the practice areas of bankruptcy, wills and probate, estate planning and conservatorship, and traffic cases.
James C. Shields is a member of the State Bar of California, the State Bar of Arizona, and the State Bar of Oregon. He is also a longtime member of the American Bar Association, the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and the Los Angeles County Bar Association.